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Engaging the brain's reward system (SCI-Napse)

The York Trials Unit (YTU) has been appointed as an independent evaluator by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

This project will evaluate the impact of a game-based approach to whole-class teaching, developed by researchers at the University of Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), which uses uncertain rewards. Games are integrated with class teaching in science lessons to test pupils’ learning, with pupils working in teams.

Pupils will be randomised within school at class level into three groups: games-based (questions with uncertain rewards); test-based (questions with fixed rewards) and a business-as-usual group.

An initial phase of development work with schools will take place to understand how the approach can be implemented most effectively in classrooms, and also to pilot evaluation methods and instruments. This phase, involving three classes in each of 12 schools, will take place between November 2015 and summer 2016.

Pupils will complete the GL Assessment Progress Test in Science (PTS) 11T at the beginning of the school spring term 2016 and PTS 13 at the end of the intervention period. Also, KS2 results for all the pupils involved will be collected to determine if this can substitute for the pre-test in the main trial.

Following the successful conclusion of this initial phase, a full-scale pragmatic randomised controlled trial (RCT) will begin in September 2016, involving between three and six classes in each of 69 schools. Pupils may complete the PTS in autumn 2016, depending upon the findings of the pilot phase, and will complete the PTS 13 in summer 2017. The PTS results of pupils in the three groups will be compared in order to estimate the effect the interventions have had on pupils’ science achievement.

The Education Endowment Foundation website contains further information about this project.

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Funder(s): Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)

Start Date:

January 2016
Expiry Date: January 2018


Internal Staff

Trials and Statistics Research in the Department of Health Sciences